After a two-year absence, curtesy of the global pandemic, Venturefest South returned to the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on the 21st of October. With restrictions only recently lifted you might have expected that attendance would be affected, but registrations broke the previous record with more that one thousand people pre-registered for the event. So, how did the day play out?

 

Collaboration Zone

The Collaboration Zone was where Basingstoke and Deane Council showcased the support available for start-up businesses in Basingstoke; reprising it’s “Get Launched” collective. Under this banner were Root21 the hi-tech business accelerator and the IncuHive incubation space, along with Tech Juice itself. With accompanying support from the council, it created a strong case to start a business in Basingstoke.

 

Innovation Zone

The Innovation Zone this year consisted of 24 companies at various stages of development and diverse applications from Regenerative Medicine to Jet Packs. The judges were asked to select “The Innovator of the Year” from 16 Innovators with the award going to Maverick Aviation an innovator in aerial mobility systems through its unique Jet Packs. Then “The Early Stage Innovator Award” from 6 nascent businesses. The award went to Acoustic Black Holes a University of Southampton team using novel techniques to reduce noise and vibration levels in several diverse applications. Finally, “The Sustainable Innovation Leader” from all 24 businesses went to Oxto, a company developing flywheel energy storage for renewable energy applications. Runner-up awards in each category were also made to Renovos, Earswitch, Other Skies, Donator and IoT Solutions.

Those businesses that didn’t exhibit in the Innovation Zone had an opportunity to pitch their idea as the Open Mic sessions returned by popular demand. This year saw 16 business ideas pitched with the judges selecting Millie Clare’s pitch for Human Beauty as the winner.

The celebrated Innovation Talks were also back this year with an added COVID inspired twist of live streaming for those who couldn’t or were unwilling to attend in person. This year we were treated to talks and panel sessions from 3 streams of interest: “How the Creative Industries are driving innovation in the south”, “The changing face of innovation funding” and “Sustainability: The biggest innovation opportunity in 100 years”. Once again these talks were aimed stimulating innovation in the region and the addition of live streaming means they were all recorded, so if you missed any you can catch up here.

 

Navigating Net Zero Summit

Finally, there was the Navigating Net Zero Summit. Coming just ahead of COP 26, Maritime UK Solent – the regional sector-based cluster backed by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and working with Maritime UK – hosted the Summit. The Summit focused on clean maritime innovation in the Solent. Venturefest was an opportunity to bring together key partners with innovators in the sector and to promote the newly formed Solent Maritime Innovation Gateway.

After almost two years of on and off lockdowns, it was great to be at Venturefest to meet people and share ideas once again. It again showcased the breadth of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that exists in the region and puts it in a strong position as we emerge from the pandemic and look to the future. Looking forward to VFS22!